Owen J. Justin

CCCman, Company 118, Camp S-55,  East Jaffrey, N.H., First Marine Division, USMC

From a Pamphlet Issued on the Occassion of A Dinner in His Honor

    "Owen J. Justin, was born in Lawrence on November 11, 1915, the son of the late John I. Justin, Sr. and Mary Elizabeth (Coffey) Justin. He has two brothers and two sisters, the Misses Winifred and Evelyn P. Callahan, John I, Jr. and James M. Justin, all of Amesbury and all of whom are at the family table tonight at this great party. Approximately six months after Owen's birth the family moved to Amesbury and therefore for all intent and purposes his friends and neighbors regard Owen as a native son.

     He attended St. Joseph's Parochial Grammar School and graduated in 1929. He then entered St. James High Scholl in nearby Haverhill where he completed his sophomore year. He then transferred to Amesbury High School and graduated with the Class of 1934. At both schools Owen compiled a brilliant record in all types of athletics including football, basketball and baseball. In 1933 he was honored by his teammates for being the most valuable player on the football team. He was also further honored by being elected captain of the basketball and baseball teams. In the Senior Class Year Book he was singled out by his classmates as being the best all-around athlete in the school.

     In addition to his athletic prowess he was also elected President of the Junior Class, and today, still serves as Alumni Class President for the year of 1934.

     During and after his high school days Owen found the time to take an active part in extra curricular athletice activities in the Town. He played basketball for the St. Joseph Boys' Club which was founded and directed by the late Rev. Joseph F. Tusher and coached by the late John J. (Doc) Flanagan, Sr. Father Tusher was one of the pioneer clergymen in the field of youth activities in the Archdiocese of Boston and conducted a highly successful recreational program for the youth of the Town long before the advent of the current Catholic Youth Organization. Owen also played baseball for the Amesbury Post, American Legion Junior Baseball team which won several county championships and participated in several State-wide tournaments. Owen also played baseball and basketball for the Amesbury Wildcats which was composed of older players from the St. Joseph Boys' Club. Old time sports fans recall with delight the many excellent games played by our gust of honor in the Amesbury Twilight League at the Amesbury Park and in the Community Basketball League which operated successfully in this very hall for many years in the late twenties and early thirties. No one was a more fierce competitor, or a better sport than Owen. He and his young teammates competed against many of the best known traveling athletic teams of the country including the House of David and the Philadelphia Colored Giants. Owen also played basketball against a team of Boston All-Stars headed by Ed (Moose) Krause, the present athletic director at Notre Dame University and managed by the late Ralph Wheeler, well known sports writer for the Boston Herald Traveler.

      As a result of his athletic ability and his good standing in scholastic ranks, the guest of honor received two offers of athletic scholarships, one to Governor Dummer Academy in nearby South Byfield and the other to Villa-Nove College in Pennsylvania, the Augustinian School which "fathered" Merrimac College in Andover.

      However, fate was to play an important part in the life of Owen and our guest of hoonor was never able to take advantage of either of these two scholarships. Graduating form high school in 1934 he say the Nation suffering the worst depression in its history. Because of this fact, he could not see his way clear to leaving his family in the hour of need. He tried to find employment in and about Amesbury without success. The W.P.A. came into existence at that time but they would not employ young men of Owen's age because first preference had to be justly given to the older and married men first. During this period the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt sponsored and saw enacted into law the Civilian Conservation Corps bill better known as the C.C.C. of young people of the country "where are we going to find work?"

      Owen enlisted in the C.C.C. in the early part of September 1934 and was stationed at Camp #118, East Jaffrey, N.H. His work consisted of building fire trails and forestry work in the Monadnock Mountain region. In the fall of 1935 he left the C.C.C. and went to work at the Merrimac Hat Corp. here in Amesbury which was then stepping up its operations.

      While employed at the Merrimac Hat Corp. the guest of honor was a member of the United Hatters Union and was elected by his co-workers to hold various offices and he also served on the Executive Board.

      Here again we see Fate writing another chapter in Owen's life. World War II was soon upon the Country and he enlisted in the Marine Corps on January 11, 1942 to answer the call of duty from his Country in time of dire need.

       Like many other service men, the guest of honor is most reluctant to discuss his military record or tell of the many famous battles in which he saw action. However, it is known from other sources of information that Owen saw active service with the famous First Marine Division on Guadal Canal and Cape Gloucester, New Britain during which time he was wounded in action on January 3, 1944. He was honorably discharged on December 27, 1945 having been awarded two Purple Hearts and other honors that had been awarded to the First Marine Division, namely Presidential Citations.

       Following his discharge form the military service, Owen returned to his work at the Merrimac Hat Corp.

       In 1948 at the urging of his many friends he decided to run for the office of Selectman. A young man with an athletic background and a notable military career his election on his first try was easily predicted and resulted. In June of the same year he received his first appointment to the Postal Service at the Amesbury Post Office. He was named a substitute clerk-carrier by the late Postmaster John F. Larnard.

       Beginning in 1948 when Owen was first elected to the board of Selectmen he was returned to that office by the voters of Amesbury for 13 years at which time he decided that his increasing duties at the Post Office did not allow him sufficient time for this important public service. He retired undefeated as a Selectman in 1961.

       His postal service consists of working as a city carrier, clerk, Foreman of Mails, assistant postmaster and the postmaster. On March 25, 1964 Postmaster Larnard, a fellow member of the Amesbury Rotary Club with our guest of honor, died. On April 14, 1964 Owen was appointed Acting Postmaster by President Johnson and Postmaster General Grounouski. He was nominated for said appointment by Senator Edward Kennedy. On August 22, 1964 Owen was appointed Postmaster by President Johnson and confirmed by the United States Senate.

      Thus it can be seen that Postmaster Justin is in the full sense of the word a "career Postmaster" having come up form the ranks of carrier through every position in the Post Office to the highest rank of Postmaster. His intimate knowledge of the Postal Service should be a harbinger of many improvements in the Postal Service to the Amesbury patrons and those of the surrounding towns such as Merrimac, South Hampton, N.H. and Kensington, N.H.

      Owen married and had children and grandchildren (edited for privacy reasons, Curator).

      Owen was manager of the St. Joseph's C.Y.O. Drum and Bugle Corps for 6 years after his military service. He traveled throughout Massachusetts and New England with this outstanding group and was one of its leading boosters and raised hundreds of dollars in voluntary donations from both parishioners and non-parishioners in order to carry on this vital youth program.

       In addition to his membership in the Amesbury Rotary Club, Owen is a member of the Amesbury Post, American Legion and Richard F. O'Brien Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars. He is also a member of the Essex County and Mass. Postmasters' Association.

      Much more could be written concerning the life of our guest of honor. However, in the interests of good taste and brevity the above thumb-nail sketch should suffice to refresh the memory of the many friends of the guest of honor. We trust that it will also prove a source of education and inspiration to his many new friends who are not aware of the illustrious career of the guest of honor. One of the many things which could be elaborated upon if space permitted was the 1933 rescue from drowning of an unidentified boy at the Lake Gardner Dam by our guest of honor.

      He was then a member of the Junior Class at Amesbury High School when he performed this heroic service.

      Owen Justin - a man of high character and spotless reputation - an outstanding athlete in his youth - military hero - public servant for the citizens of Amesbury for 13 years, we salute him tonight as he enters a new chapter of his life. The Postal Service will be the richer for having the likes of Owen Justin as one of its Postmasters whether it be in the small town of Amesbury or in a metropolis."

      Mr. Justin, a Cousin of the Curator, passed away a few years back. This was provided me by his immediate family.

------ Curator



Owen Justin, 1965 Photo, First Marine Division, World War Two, USMC


Back To Justin Oral History, Marine Biographies

Also Be Sure to Visit

James F. Justin, Civilian Conservation Corps Museum

Justin Museum of Military History

James F. Justin Museum

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